Below you will find information on the Skilled Worker visa (previously the Tier 2 General work visa.)

NEWS: The Skilled Worker route replaced the General Work visa (Tier 2) on 1 December 2020.

Overview

A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer.

This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

Some health workers and their families will get their visas extended for free because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you or your close family member started living in the UK before 1 January 2021, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

Otherwise you need a visa to work in the UK.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Eligibility

Your job

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:

  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do

The specific eligibility depends on your job.

You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

Knowledge of English

You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

If you’re not eligible for a Skilled Worker visa

You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

How long you can stay

Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.

If you want to stay longer in the UK

You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

How to apply

You must apply online.

How you apply depends on whether you’re:

If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa.

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

How long it takes

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.

You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Getting a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:

  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK

If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

How much it costs

You, your partner or children will each need to:

  • pay the application fee
  • pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay
  • prove you have enough personal savings

Check how much money you’ll need.

If you work in public sector healthcare

If you’re a doctor or nurse, or you work in health or adult social care, check if you’re eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead. It’s cheaper to apply for and you do not need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge.

What you can and cannot do

With a Skilled Worker visa you can:

You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • change jobs or employer unless you apply to update your visa

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Skilled Worker visa.

Your job

You must meet all of the following requirements to be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa:

  • your job is eligible for this visa
  • you’ll be paid the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you’ll be doing - whichever is higher
  • you’ll be working for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office

Check if your job is eligible

Before you can find out if your job is eligible, you need to know its 4-digit occupation code.

If you already have a job offer, ask your employer for your occupation code.

Look up your job’s occupation code

If you do not know your code, you can search for your job in the ONS occupation coding tool.

Not every job title is included. If you cannot find your exact job title, try searching for similar jobs.

Make sure the job description matches what you’ll be doing. Some similar jobs have different codes, for example chefs and cooks. Chefs are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, but cooks are not.

Check if an occupation code is eligible for this visa

When you know your occupation code, view the table of eligible jobs to see if it’s included.

The table is very large. It’s sorted in order of occupation code, with the smallest numbers at the top. You may be able to use your web browser to search for your code on the page.

Salary requirements

You’ll usually need to be paid at least £25,600 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than this.

ExampleYour salary is £27,000 per year, but the annual going rate for the job you’ll be doing is £30,000. You do not meet the usual salary requirements for this visa.

Each occupation code has its own annual going rate. Check the going rate for your job in the going rates table.

If you work in healthcare or education

There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs, where the going rate is based on national pay scales.

When you can be paid less

If you do not meet the usual salary requirements, and you do not work in healthcare or education, you might still be eligible if your annual salary will be at least £20,480.

Check when you can be paid less.

Approved UK employers

You must have a job offer from an approved UK employer before you apply for a Skilled Worker visa. Approved employers are also known as sponsors, because they are sponsoring you to come to or stay in the UK.

View the list of approved UK employers.

If your employer is not currently approved, they can apply for a sponsor licence if they’re eligible.

They’ll need to pay a fee - £536 for small businesses and charities or £1,476 for medium and large organisations. It usually takes around 8 weeks to process a licence application.

If you already have a job offer from an approved employer

Your employer - also known as your sponsor - will check that you meet the eligibility requirements. They’ll give you a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ to prove this.

The certificate of sponsorship is an electronic record, not a physical document. It will have a reference number, which you’ll need for your visa application.

You must apply for your visa within 3 months of getting your certificate of sponsorship.

Check which documents you’ll need to apply.

When you can be paid less

You might still be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa if your job is eligible but your salary is less than £25,600 or your job’s usual ‘going rate’.

You can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for your job if your salary is at least £20,480 per year and you meet one of the following criteria:

  • your job is in a shortage occupation
  • you’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training
  • you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job (if you have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject your salary must be at least £23,040)
  • you have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education

There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs.

Your job is in a shortage occupation

A ‘shortage occupation’ is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

If your job is on the shortage occupation list, you can:

  • be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate
  • pay a lower fee for your visa

View the shortage occupations list to see if your job is included and how much you’ll need to be paid.

Make sure you check there’s a shortage in the part of the UK you’ll be working in - England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training

You can be paid 70% of your job’s usual going rate if one of the following applies:

  • you’re under 26 on the date you apply
  • you’re currently in the UK on a Student visa - or you have been in the last 2 years - studying at bachelor’s degree level or above
  • you’re currently in the UK on a Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  • you’ll be working towards a recognised qualification in a UK regulated profession
  • you’ll be working towards full registration or chartered status in the job you’re being sponsored for

If this applies to you, check how much you’ll need to be paid to qualify for this visa.

Your total stay in the UK cannot be more than 4 years if you apply for one of these reasons. This includes any time you’ve already spent in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa.

You have a PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job

If your job is eligible for a PhD salary discount, you can be paid 80% or 90% of the job’s usual going rate, depending on which subject you are qualified in.

If you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) qualification, you can be paid 80% of your job’s usual going rate, as long as you will still be paid at least £20,480 per year.

If you have a non-STEM qualification, you can be paid 90% of your job’s usual going rate, as long as you will still be paid at least £23,040 a year.

In both situations, you must:

  • have a UK PhD or an equivalent doctorate-level overseas qualification - you’ll need to apply through UK NARIC to check if an overseas qualification is equivalent to a UK PhD
  • be able to prove your qualification is relevant to the job you’ll be doing in the UK - your employer can confirm this

View the list of jobs that qualify for a PhD salary discount to see if your job is included and how much you need to be paid.

If you’re a research or academic leader, you may also be eligible to apply for the Global Talent visa. This visa has no language or minimum salary requirements.

You have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education

You can be paid 70% of your job’s usual going rate if you’ll be working in a postdoctoral position in certain science or higher education roles.

Your job must be in one of the following occupation codes to qualify for this salary discount:

  • 2111: chemical scientists
  • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113: physical scientists
  • 2114: social and humanities scientists
  • 2119: natural and social science professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as research fellows and sports scientists
  • 2311: higher education teaching professionals

If this applies to you, check how much you’ll need to be paid to qualify for this visa.

Your total stay in the UK cannot be more than 4 years if you apply to work in a postdoctoral position at 70% of the usual going rate. This includes any time you’ve already spent in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa.

If you work in healthcare or education

There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs. The ‘going rates’ for these jobs are based on the national pay scales set by the relevant independent body, for example the NHS.

View the list of eligible healthcare and education jobs to see if your job is included.

National pay scales tables

If your job is on the list, your salary must be at least the national pay scale rate for the job you’ll be doing.

These going rates apply whether you’ll be working in the public or private sector.

Check how much you’ll need to be paid in the:

Ask your employer if you’re not sure what your role or pay band will be.

If your job is on the shortage occupation list

You and your family will pay a lower application fee if your job is in a shortage occupation.

View the list of healthcare and education shortage occupations to see if your job is included.

Make sure you check there’s a shortage in the part of the UK you’ll be working in - England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If your job is on the list, the reduced fee for each person applying is:

  • £464 if you’re staying for up to 3 years
  • £928 if you’re staying for more than 3 years

The fee is the same whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

You’ll also need to pay the healthcare surcharge and prove you can support yourself in the UK - check how much money you’ll need.

Knowledge of English

You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply, unless you did this in a previous successful visa application.

Level of English

You must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

You can prove your knowledge of English by:

  • passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
  • having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English

  • having a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English - if you studied abroad, you’ll need to apply for confirmation through UK NARIC that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

Who does not need to prove their knowledge of English

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

 

How much it costs

When you apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:

  • pay the application fee - the standard fee ranges from £610 to £1,408 depending on your circumstances
  • pay the healthcare surcharge - this is usually £624 per year
  • support yourself when you arrive in the UK - you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)

You’ll pay a lower application fee if your job is on the shortage occupation list.

You’ll be told how much you need to pay when you apply.

Example

You’re applying to come to the UK from Argentina for 2 years on a Skilled Worker visa.

Your job is not in a shortage occupation so your visa will cost £610, plus £624 for each year of your stay for the healthcare surcharge. This means you’ll pay a total of £1,858 when you apply for your visa.

You’ll also need to prove you have £1,270 available to support yourself in the UK if your employer cannot cover these costs.

Application fees

If you’re applying from outside the UK, the standard fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for:

  • up to 3 years - £610 per person
  • more than 3 years - £1,220 per person

If you’re applying from inside the UK to extend, switch or update your visa, the standard fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for:

  • up to 3 years - £704 per person
  • more than 3 years - £1,408 per person

If your job is on the shortage occupation list

You and your family will pay a lower application fee if your job is on the shortage occupation list.

The fee for each person applying is:

  • £464 if you’re staying for up to 3 years
  • £928 if you’re staying for more than 3 years

The fee is the same whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

There’s a different list of shortage occupations if you work in healthcare or education.

If you’re from an eligible country

Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re from one of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

If your job is on the shortage occupation list, you’ll get this reduction as well as paying a lower fee.

This reduction only applies to your visa application. Your partner and children will still need to pay the full application fee.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay - this is usually £624 per year. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Money to support yourself

You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK.

You will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa.

You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply, unless either:

  • you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
  • your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270

Your partner and children will also need to prove they can support themselves while they’re in the UK. Check how much they’ll need.

Read the guidance on financial evidence for more information about the money you need and how to prove it.

If your employer can support you instead

Your certificate of sponsorship must confirm this. Your employer will need to complete the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on your certificate. This is under ‘Additional data’.

 

Documents you'll need to apply

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • your certificate of sponsorship reference number - your employer will give you this
  • proof of your knowledge of English
  • a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
  • your job title and annual salary
  • your job’s occupation code
  • the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number - this will be on your certificate of sponsorship

Ask your employer for a copy of your certificate of sponsorship if you do not have one.

If your certificate of sponsorship was issued before 1 December 2020

Your certificate of sponsorship will need to be updated because it was assigned to you before the Tier 2 (General) work visa was replaced by the Skilled Worker visa.

Ask your employer to update the ‘sponsor notes’ section in the UK visa sponsorship management system.

Other documents you might need

Depending on your circumstances, you might be asked to provide:

You’ll need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you’re:

  • from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with a chip in it

If your documents are not in English or Welsh you’ll also need to provide a certified translation.

Criminal record certificate

You’ll need to provide a criminal record certificate if you’re applying from outside the UK and you work in:

  • education, for example teachers, education advisers and school inspectors, childminders, teaching assistants
  • healthcare, for example nurses, doctors, paramedics, managers, pharmacists, dentists and dental nurses, ophthalmic opticians
  • therapy, for example psychologists, speech and language therapists, counsellors
  • social services, for example social workers, managers, probation officers, welfare and housing officers

Check how to apply for criminal records checks.

If you work in healthcare, you might be able to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead.

If you’ve lived in more than one country

You might need to provide a certificate from each country you’ve lived in, depending on your age and how long you stayed in each country.

If you’re under 28, you’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in for a total of 12 months or more since you turned 18.

If you’re 28 or over, you’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in over the last 10 years.

Apply from outside the UK

You must apply online for a Skilled Worker visa.

Check which documents you’ll need to apply.

Your partner or children will need to apply separately.

Proving your identity and providing supporting documents

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity. How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have.

You’ll either:

  • have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre - this is to get a biometric residence permit
  • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document - you’ll also create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply.

If you do need an appointment:

  • the centre may need to keep your passport and documents while they process your application
  • you may have to travel to get to your nearest visa application centre (this could be in another country)

Apply for a Skilled Worker visa

The application form is filled out online at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa/apply-from-outside-the-uk

Once you’ve started your application, you can save your form and complete it later. 

How long it takes to get a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application will take longer, for example because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction

If you’ve applied through a visa application centre, find out if you can pay to get a faster decision - this depends on where you’re applying from.

After you apply

You can ask to cancel your application. You’ll only get your fee refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.

You’ll get an email containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

Your partner and children

Your partner and children

Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours.

Your relationship

A dependant partner or child is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • your child under 18 - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant

You’ll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.

Your partner

You must be able to prove that either:

  • you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
  • you’ve been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply

If your child is 16 or over

They must:

  • live with you (unless they’re in full-time education at boarding school, college or university)
  • not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children
  • be financially supported by you

If your child lives with you, you’ll need to provide evidence of their address such as:

  • a bank statement
  • credit card bills
  • driving licence
  • NHS registration document
  • an official letter from their university or college

Money they need to support themselves

Your partner and children must have a certain amount of money available to support themselves while they’re in the UK.

You - or your partner or child - will need:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

Apply from outside the UK

Your partner and children must either:

Each family member will need to complete a separate application and pay the visa fee.

They’ll also need your application number - you’ll get this when you apply. This number is called a Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN). You’ll find it on emails and letters from the Home Office about your application.

Proving their identity

As part of their application, your partner and children will need to prove their identity.

They’ll either:

  • have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre - this is to get a biometric residence permit
  • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document - they’ll also create or sign in to their UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

They’ll be told what they need to do when they apply.

If they do need an appointment:

  • the visa application centre may need to keep their passport and documents while they process their application
  • they may have to travel to get to their nearest centre (this could be in another country)

How long it takes to get a decision

Once they’ve applied online, proved their identity and provided their documents, they’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.

They may be able to pay to get their visa faster or use other services depending on which country they’re in - check with the visa application centre.

Apply from inside the UK (extend or switch their visa)

Apply for your partner or child’s visa at the same time as you apply to extend or switch your own visa. This includes children who were born or have turned 18 during your stay.

If you cannot apply at the same time, your partner or child can apply to extend or switch their visas at a later date. This must be before their current visa expires.

Your partner or children cannot apply to switch to your Skilled Worker visa as your dependants if they are currently in the UK:

How to apply

Your partner and children must apply online to either:

They’ll need your application number - you’ll get this when you apply. This number is called a Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN). You’ll find it on emails and letters from the Home Office about your application.

Proving their identity

As part of their application, your partner and children will need to prove their identity. They’ll either:

They’ll be told what they need to do when they apply.

They must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until they get a decision. Their application will be withdrawn if they do.

How long it takes to get a decision

Once they’ve applied online, proved their identity and provided their documents, they’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.

They may be able to pay to get a faster decision - they’ll be told if they can when they apply.

Switching to this visa

You might be able to apply to change (‘switch’) to a Skilled Worker visa if you’re already in the UK on a different type of visa.

Your partner or children will need to apply separately.

You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

Eligibility

You must meet the following requirements:

Who cannot apply to switch to this visa

You cannot apply to switch to this visa if you’re currently in the UK:

You must leave the UK and apply for a Skilled Worker visa from abroad if you’re in one of these categories.

Fees

Each person applying will need to pay:

You may also need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

If you’ve been in the UK for less than 1 year, you’ll also need to prove you have enough money to support yourself.

Proving your identity and providing supporting documents

As part of your application you’ll need to prove your identity.

How you do this depends on where you’re from and the type of passport you have.

You’ll either:

You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply.

Apply to switch to a Skilled Worker visa

You must apply online before your current visa expires.

Once you’ve started your application, you can save your form and complete it later.

Apply now

Continue your application

Sign in to your account using the link from your sign-up email.

How long it takes to get a decision

You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks of your application date.

You’ll be contacted if your application will take longer, for example because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision - you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

After you apply

If you need to change something in your application after you’ve sent it contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can ask to cancel your application. You’ll only get your fee refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.

You’ll get an email or a letter containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

Further information

You can read more at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa